The iconic sign Jackson’s Corner is a Reading landmark – and planners creating the building to replace the 138-year-old department store are pledging to keep it, should their plans be adopted.
Wakelin Associates Architects and Hicks Baker showcased their plans for the redevelopment at a public exhibition, held in the Kings Road store on Thursday, June 12.
More than 100 people visited the display and could see a potted history of the building as well as the future plans.
The ground floor will be levelled and converted into three retail units, one on the curve, the second starting at the existing main entrance and a third smaller shop in the disused Bagel Shack store, by the Number 17 bus stop. The ground floor will become one level.
The upper floors will be converted to flats, as will buildings at the rear.
There will be 11 one bed and seven two-bed flats in the shop, while a further 14 flats (12 one-bed and two two-bed) will be created in the rear block, which can be accessed from the gate between Oxfam Bookshop and Lloyds Bank in Market Place.
Visitors could have their say by completing a questionnaire about the plans.
Speaking exclusively to Xn, Fiona Brownfoot, a partner from Hicks Baker, said: “It’s been very exciting. Jackson’s Corner is the focus of a lot of people’s attention in Reading. There’s been a lot of attention as to what we’re going to do with it.
“The top question today has been will the building stay? Yes. Second question, will the sign stay? Yes!”
The proposals, which are still under consultation and have not been submitted as a planning application, is something that Fiona feels is “uncontentious”.
“We’ve had to create something that will appeal to current day retailers,” she added. “[We’ll make] two units out of current and taking the levels down so we’ve got retail space all on one level. On the upper floors we’re creating residential.”
The exhibition was well attended and Fiona is looking forward to reading all the feedback.
“People are very keen to see what’s on, 99.99% have been positive.”
Cllr Tony Page, deputy leader of Reading Borough Council and lead councillor for the planning committee, visited to see the plans for himself.
Stressing that he was looking in and not prejudging the application, he said: “I’m delighted we have a set of proposals that have retained retail activity on the ground floor, which is very important to the town centre, being residential it’s the sort of detail that adds to the viability of this project.
“I look forward to seeing all the details when the planning application comes forward.”
Fiona said that being part of the Jackson’s project is a pleasure and she’s “hugely excited” at playing her part in the redevelopment plans.
“I’ve been involved in Reading retail for the past 10-15 years,” she said. “This [Jackson’s] is a real focus; I’m delighted to work closely and take this building to its next phase.”